There is much doubt surrounding the origin of the name 'charlotte'. Meat dishes called 'charlets' were around in the 15th century, but some say that the sweet dish took its name much later, from Queen Charlotte, wife of George III. Whatever the truth of the matter, this is a delicious dessert, with a crisp golden crust and a filling of apples.
900 g (2 lb) cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced
2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) ground cinnamon
finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
light soft brown sugar, to taste
75 g (3 oz) butter, melted
8 thin slices brown bread, crusts removed
1. Put the apples, cinnamon, lemon rind and juice and sugar in a heavy-based saucepan. Cover and simmer gently until pulpy, stirring occasionally.
2. Beat thoroughly with a wooden spoon, then cook, uncovered, over a high heat, stirring continuously, until any excess liquid has evaporated and the puree is very thick.
3. Brush the butter all over the slices of bread. Line the base and sides of a greased 15 cm (6 inch) Charlotte mould or deep cake tin with the slices of bread, making sure that they overlap.
4. Spoon in the apple puree and cover with more overlapping slices of bread. Bake at 190°C (375°F) mark 5 for about 30 minutes, until the top is golden brown.
Serve at once, turned out and accompanied with custard or fresh cream.